Roxio Easy Media Creator 7.5
Roxio's Easy Media Creator (EMC) 7.5 Supersonic is the result of years of acquisitions within the specialist media software industry. It pulls together tools such as VideoWave Photosuite, that Roxio inherited when it bought out MGI, and adds the applications Sonic Solutions brought to the party after acquiring Roxio.
The result is a comprehensive suite designed to help with a wide range of tasks relating to digital video, images and audio. EMC 7.5 contains a host of tools that help organise and edit image collections. It does the same thing for video and audio, and lets you burn the results to DVD or CD.
Sonic's purchase of Roxio sees the addition of three elements. Backup MyPC Deluxe 6.0 (reviewed on page 34, July issue) safeguards the data on your PC and assists with recovery, should disaster strike. It's worth half the purchase price on its own, as it sells separately for $89.99 and is a simple, intuitive piece of software that makes backing up easy even for novices.
Another addition is MyDVD Slideshow, a cut-down version of Sonic's DVD-authoring software. Rather than doing the whole job, this program is optimised for creating photo slideshow discs. It's something of a one-trick pony, but more tightly focused as a result - and certainly easier to use than the more complex DVD Builder, which is included also.
The final bonus that Sonic adds to the mix is CinePlayer 2.0. This is more stable than Roxio's playback software, which was bundled with the previous version of EMC.
Other than Sonic's input, extras included LP and Tape Assistant, which will convert analog music into digital files; Easy Audio Capture, a feature that grabs online content such as Web radio broadcasts, and Sound Editor for manipulating and editing audio files. Enhancements in this version include automatic silence detection, while improved restoration features are designed to remove those unwanted noises such as hisses, clicks and crackles.
Aside from these welcome additions, though, the suite's core applications remain the same: PhotoSuite 7.0 Platinum, VideoWave 7.0 Professional and the DVD-authoring and burning tools DVD Builder, Disc Copier and Creator Classic.
All programs are available from the home page - an intuitive interface from which the required applications or tools can be selected. There's also a list of tasks divided into types - for example, you will find "Copy an audio CD" or "Create a new MP3 disc" under the Audio heading. Selecting the tasks you want to carry out takes you directly to the software you need to do it. It's a perfect approach for beginners who might not immediately know which program or tool to pick for the job in hand, and our only gripe was that opening applications and toggling between different elements of the suite seemed rather slow.
Within each category, the software can handle pretty much any authoring task you wish to perform. And once you've installed EMC you don't need any other media software, which will come as a relief if you rely on a mishmash of products to manage your digital content at the moment. EMC 7.5's all-embracing approach is particularly apt, coming as it does at a time when we rely increasingly on digital media.
Some tasks, however, are impossible to make simple - or indeed suitable - for the average PC. Working with video is a case in point. VideoWave is one of the best consumer video-editing packages, but like its competition, can be hard to master.
Luckily, there's a quicker way to create a home movie with soundtrack: CineMagic can automatically edit your raw footage into a finished production. Not surprisingly, it doesn't have the finesse of something you've slaved over, but its simple, wizard-based approach makes playing with video much more accessible.
Once you have created your movie, you can use the software to burn it to a disc for playback. This is where the new DivX-to-DVD Creator comes in. It's a feature that allows you to convert DivX files into a VideoTS folder. You can then record this to DVD using Disc Copier, so you can play your DivX content on a standalone DVD player. DivX-to-DVD Creator also means you can take video content downloaded from the Internet, burn it to a disc and watch it on your TV, rather than having to view it on a PC.
Verdict Although it offers a daunting amount of possibilities, Roxio's EMC 7.5 is generally easy to use (although it can be frustratingly slow). It offers great value and its friendly interface makes it a great introduction to the subject for novices, while sophisticated features cater for experienced users. Ursula Seymour
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